A neighbor is most often defined as someone who lives within the same locality, however the Bible usage was wider, just as it sometimes is in the modern world. "Neighbor" could simply mean someone who lived close by, but it was also sometimes used in a very prejudicial national or political/religious common-beliefs sense, whereby others within the very same place were regarded as alien. In that regard, it was a Pharisee's question of "Who is my neighbor?" that resulted in one of the most well-known teachings of Jesus Christ, that of "the good Samaritan."
The Old Testament
It's a surprise to some that the love toward a neighbor was paramount even during the so-called "eye for an eye" times of the Old Testament. The "eye for an eye" was actually a matter of prescribed justice when love toward a neighbor was violated. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" specifically originated in the "Old" Testament - it was not a Christian invention, but was taught by Jesus Christ as a matter of obedience to God's Law that already existed (see Jesus Christ's Bible):
"you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18 RSV)
(Note that the quote is from Leviticus, from the Old Testament. Jesus' famous "love your neighbor as yourself" in Matthew 22:39 was actually His quoting of Leviticus 19:18 as He used it in His teaching - that's why they called Him Rabbi in John 1:38)
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's." (Exodus 20:16-17 RSV) (see The Ten Commandments and
The Ten Commandments Now?)
"You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:15 RSV)
"Who Is My Neighbor?"
"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
"He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read?"
"And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." [Note: The first four of the Ten Commandments show humans how to love God, last six of the Ten Commandments show humans how to love one another.]
"And He said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."
"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
"Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'"
"Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?"
"He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37 RSV)
Fact Finder: How did the apostle Paul summarize the last 6 of the Ten Commandments?
This Week's Bible Quiz
1. Who was Aaron's younger brother?
2. Who was Aaron's sister?
3. Of what Israelite tribe was Aaron?
4. Was Aaron less than 50 or more than 50 years old at the time of the Exodus?
5. What was Aaron's wife's name?
6. Which 2 of Aaron's son's were put to death for offering "unauthorized fire"?
7. Was Aaron young, middle-aged or very old when he died?
8. Did Aaron die before or after the Israelites entered the Promised Land?
9. Which of Aaron's sons succeeded him as High Priest?
10. Was Aaron, as High Priest, a type (see Type and Antitype) of Jesus Christ?
For the answers to this November 27 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page